The Seven Generation Rule

The “seven generation rule” (a derivative of the Iroquois philosophy) states that any new technology, chemical or business process deliberated for introduction into the earth’s environment or food supply must be proven safe for the next seven generations (or 140 years into the future). In the western world we often refer to men who beat women as cowards. Yet at the same time that we jail these men for beating women we allow others to discharge five million gallons of toxic chemicals into the waterways of New Jersey and Delaware each year for our mothers and daughters, sons and fathers, fish, animals, fauna and microbes to ingest. We raise our children to pay attention and do well in school, demonstrate that they understand the sciences by achieving good grades. We then provide employment “opportunities” to work for companies that sometimes ask them to craft clever marketing pieces ignoring the science they learned back in school. We ask them to help obfuscate the harm cast upon the next seven generations from the implementations of chemicals, policies and technologies that evolve into catastrophes like Love Canal, Chernobyl, Fukushima, Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill or a global economic crisis (2008). 

General Accepted Accounting Practices allow managers to underestimate the lasting effects of environmental risks of their operations, effectively transferring future damage to generations downstream and taxpayers pockets. Surfers and fourteen year old snorkelers crowdfund to clean up the plastic garbage in the oceans, waterways and landscapes. The same garbage once proudly sourced by managers in thriving corporations allowed not to account for the environmental impact of their source material once it’s PLM (product lifecycle management) has expired. In the case of nuclear waste: 100,000 years.

When citizens voice concern and a desire for their tax dollar to be used on health care, environmental protection and education, business leaders and economists sometimes characterize these citizens as financially irresponsible and financially unsustainable while they simultaneously apologize for the lead in their drinking water, inadequate infrastructure and chemicals dumped daily into our waterways while seeking more permissions for further polluting. Is “progress” really worth ignoring the 140 year future of our fathers, mothers, daughters and sons on a planet soon to host ten billion inhabitants?  How can we do better? Answer: Apply DMAIC to the Iroquois derivative seven generation rule: Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve and Control. I always thought it ironic that Six Sigma was actually five steps. Someone needs to teach our new POTUS the five steps of Six Sigma.